TIME magazine's Person of the Year is always a highly anticipated honor, but after the past year of unprecedented upheaval, the honor is going to the group of women breaking the silence. 2017 won't go down in history as having been an easy year, but it was certainly memorable. It feels like Trump's election has sparked divisiveness like never before, yet events like the Women's March brought people together in historic numbers. Heated political decisions have rocked the American landscape, North Korea has its enemies on edge, and still, humankind progresses. Ultimately, though, when people look back on 2017, TIME predicts they'll remember "the silence breakers."
The magazine noted Ashley Judd, Rose McGowan, and Alyssa Milano among other female celebrities who spoke out about Harvey Weinstein's alleged sexual misconduct and the pervasive sexual harassment women in every industry experience. Activist Tarana Burke was also credited with starting the #MeToo movement years ago, as is Terry Crews, who went public about his sexual assault.
"This reckoning appears to have sprung up overnight," TIME's Person of the Year profile read. "But it has actually been simmering for years, decades, centuries."
Women have had it with bosses and co-workers who not only cross boundaries but don't even seem to know that boundaries exist. They've had it with the fear of retaliation, of being blackballed, of being fired from a job they can't afford to lose. They've had it with the code of going along to get along. They've had it with men who use their power to take what they want from women.
TIME also stated that while "the silence breakers" have allowed America to start asking the right questions, there's still a long way to go before harassment is eradicated.
We're still at the bomb-throwing point of this revolution, a reactive stage at which nuance can go into hiding. But while anger can start a revolution, in its most raw and feral form it can't negotiate the more delicate dance steps needed for true social change. Private conversations, which can't be legislated or enforced, are essential.
The shortlist for the honor was revealed Monday morning on the TODAY show. The 10 finalists included many people involved in politics: Special Counsel Robert Mueller; Saudi Arabian Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman; President Trump; Chinese President Xi Jinping; and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un all made the shortlist. Outside of politics, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins, and former NFL player and activist Colin Kaepernick were also considered, as well as Dreamers and the #MeToo movement as whole entities.
Before the actual winner was announced, TIME asked readers who they considered the most influential person of the year. The Saudi Arabian prince won with 24 percent of the vote, followed by the #MeToo movement with 6 percent. Tied for third were Kaepernick, Mueller, and Dreamers (undocumented immigrants brought to the U.S. as children) with 5 percent.
Last year, TIME named Trump the 2016 Person of the Year not long after he won his bid for president. Editor Nancy Gibbs explained in an article that the winner is based on who had the most influence that year, for better or worse.
"So which is it this year: Better or worse?" she wrote. "The challenge for Donald Trump is how profoundly the country disagrees about the answer." She wrote that it was "hard to measure the scale of his disruption," which is likely still true one year later.
Last year's finalists were also a mix of political figures and cultural figures, including both Trump and Hillary Clinton, Russian President Vladimir Putin, Beyoncé, and Olympic gymnast Simone Biles. Like 2017's shortlist, 2016 also included larger groups, including the CRISPR scientists, who created technology to edit DNA, and the Flint whistleblowers, who exposed lead poisoning in the Michigan town's water.
TIME has named the year's most influential person since 1927, continuing to reflect on which individuals and groups have made headlines and shaped the world most. This year's award was no different — for better or worse, as Gibbs might say.
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